Manufacturers these days are equipping cars with more features than ever to ensure safe, comfortable and convenient rides, but savvy drivers know for ultimate preparedness, sometimes you need to take things into your own hands.
We’ve identified 9 things you should always have in your car for every driver to help them tackle everyday issues and emergencies alike.
Tire Changing / Fixing Supplies
If your car has a spare tire, it’ll be all but worthless to you if you don’t have the supplies handy to take a flat tire off and replace it with the spare. We recommend learning how to change a tire. It’s an empowering skill to have. Trust.
Once that detail is squared away, items like a tire iron, car jack and lug wrench will be key in getting the old tire off and the spare on your car. Once the spare is on, you’ll want to have a tire pressure gauge to test if there’s enough air in it and a tire pump if you find there isn’t.
If your car is without a spare, or you want to avoid the inconvenience of changing a tire on-the-go, have a tire repair kit on hand to get you back on the road more quickly.
Jumper Cables / Emergency Battery Booster
A dead battery can happen to anyone and whether it’s your own or some unfortunate soul looking for a jump, having jumper cables or a battery booster in your trunk can quickly ease a stressful situation for any driver.
For the driver who loves the classics, a set of jumper cables is a key component of any car trunk. Try to get cables that are 16 feet long, although 12 feet will do. Also important? Knowing how to use them. Take a moment to learn how to use your cables before you need them and you’ll feel a lot calmer (and less susceptible to making things worse) when it’s time to get your jump on.
If you crave modern convenience, a battery booster is a must. It’s compact, light and can do more than bring your car to life. Many now are equipped with USB ports, meaning they can rescue your mobile devices and laptops from a dreaded zero percent battery situation.
First Aid Kit
You don’t need a doctor in the car to take care of medical issues that may arise while you’re on the road. Most first aid kits come stocked with essentials like scissors, tweezers, bandages, gauze, alcohol wipes and tape to help fix boo-boos like minor cuts, scrapes and splinters.
Supplement with other essential supplies like ibuprofen, chewable antacids, bottled water and energy bars, in case you find yourself in a situation where you have to rely on them for sustenance.
Emergency Escape Tool
This tool is for those worst-case scenarios you hope you’ll never find yourself in. If you’re trapped in a vehicle, the emergency escape tool could literally be a life saver. An inexpensive addition to your glove compartment or keychain, it’s imperative that this tool can both break glass and cut seatbelts.
Blankets and Towels
For everyday situations, towels can serve the purpose of cleaning up spills and clearing up fog on the inside of windows. Blankets can play an impromptu role in picnics and padded seating in stadiums.
In emergencies, blankets and towels can save lives if you get drenched and cold from rain or snow. Having a set of spare clothes isn’t the worst idea either.
You never know when you might need a screwdriver, pliers, a knife or wire cutters so it’s worth having a multi-tool in your car. These compact, all-in-one instruments are the MVPs of the driver’s toolkit for self-described MacGyvers and normal folks alike.
Add a roll of duct tape, matches and some WD-40, and you’re a model of preparedness on the road.
Let there be light! If you’re taking a look under the hood, tackling roadside repairs in the dark or just trying to find something small that fell in a hard-to-reach area between the seats (been there!), a flashlight can become your best friend.
A simple one will do, but there have been some major advances in flashlight technology — we’re talking magnetic LED flashlights for hands-free usage, we’re talking zoomable and water resistant, we’re talking head lamps! Whatever you choose, keep some spare batteries in the glove compartment.
Cold Weather Gear
OK, this may depend on the season and where you are geographically, but this is Canada. Chances are something like an ice scraper is already in your car, since it comes in especially handy from November through March for many of us. Another consideration is something that provides traction if you find yourself in a slick situation with snow or ice. Sand, kitty litter and road salt can be useful, as can a traction mat that you can keep in your trunk.
We’re in the age of connectivity. Whether you’re lost, in an accident, or you just want to let someone know you’re running late, you don’t want to find yourself in a situation with a dead mobile device and no way to charge it. Most cars are now equipped with USB ports, so why not throw an extra charger cable for emergencies? Want guaranteed juice even if your car can’t power it up? Get a battery powered charger for extra peace of mind.
BONUS ITEM: Cash
It seems like pretty much everywhere accepts credit or debit or even Apple Pay now, but when it comes to driving, you may still find yourself in a few scenarios where cash is king. Road tolls? Some car washes and parking meters? Air compressors at the gas station? You better have cash, especially quarters, on hand. Keep a couple of bills in your wallet and a roll of quarters in a cup holder for those random times where cash rules everything around you.